PRETERISM

Examined & Refuted



by
CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL
Director of The Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry
© Copyright 2005–2015


Featured Teacher on The End Times: Ten
Upcoming Events in Bible Prophecy

It seems that Preterism (which I will shortly define for those of you who have not heard of it) is growing in popularity in Christian circles. In this article, I will lay out six concise reasons I believe Preterism should be rejected as unbiblical.

WHAT IS PRETERISM?

Preterism is the belief that the prophecies in Matthew 24 (spoken by Jesus on the Mount of Olives) and the Book of Revelation were largely or completely fulfilled in the past, particularly in the events leading up to and surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Now, for those of you who may be new to Bible study, Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation have to do largely with the tumultuous events leading up to Christ’s Second Coming to the Earth.

Those who adhere to this view of Bible prophecy known as preterism, refer to themselves as “preterists.” Why? The word preterism is based on the Latin word preter, which means: “past”. And that’s what preterists believe. Preterists believe that many (if not all) of those things that most Christians would consider future events on the prophetic calendar are actually things of the past. According to Preterists…

• The Tribulation
• The Antichrist
• The Abomination of Desolation
• Jesus’ Coming (Matthew 24; Revelation 19)

…are all things of the past.

Many preterists believe that these things were fulfilled in the turmoil and political upheaval that ensued when Jerusalem was sacked by Rome and most of its inhabitants were slaughtered in A.D. 70.

Now, preterism is actually very similar to an unbiblical teaching that was making its rounds in the early church.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:17-18...

 2 Timothy 2:17-18
“...Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection [a future event] has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.”

Back in the first century, Paul tells us, there were two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who were confusing people in the church because they were talking about a future event as though it already happened. We might call these two men the first preterists.

But they were not the only ones doing this. Turn back to the left two books to 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul mentions this kind of problem again to the believers in Thessalonica…

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord [a reference to the Tribulation, still future] has come. Let no one in any way deceive you.”

So, there were those back in the first century who were speaking of future events (the tribulation, the resurrection and so on) as though they had already taken place.

And this is precisely what preterists are doing today. And the result today is the same as in the first century: “they upset the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:18). Other hearers are having their faith “shaken” or “disturbed” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

This is one of the reasons I want to talk to you about preterism. It is growing in popularity and it is shaking some peoples’ faith in what they’ve been taught.

Now, there are two main camps within the preterist community. There are...

1. Full (extreme, hyper) preterists
2. Partial (moderate) preterists

What’s the difference between the two camps?

Full (or “Extreme”) preterists believe all Biblical prophecy has been fulfilled, including...

 • the great tribulation
• the Second Coming of Jesus
• the bodily resurrection of believers
• and the great white throne judgment

Full preterists (e.g., Max King, John Bray and the late James Stuart Russell) are even so bold as to say that we are living in the new heavens and the new Earth (talked about in Revelation 21-22).

Of course, they have to abandon the plain understanding of the Scriptures to try and explain what John really meant when he said “there shall no longer be any death…mourning, or crying, or pain” in Rev. 21:4.

So, that’s what full preterists believe: All prophecy has been fulfilled. They seem to be the minority within the preterist community. The camp that seems to have more influence today (and the camp that seems to be growing in size) is the group that holds to partial (or moderate) preterism.

Adherents to partial preterism, such as:

• Hank Hanegraaff
• R.C. Sproul
• Gary DeMar
• Kenneth Gentry

...believe that Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation have only largely been fulfilled.

Partial preterists (in contrast to full preterists) believe that the coming of Jesus spoken of in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19 was fulfilled, but it was fulfilled spiritually (rather than physically).

How was Jesus’ coming in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19 fulfilled spiritually? Well…They say it occurred when the Roman army destroyed the temple in A.D. 70 and killed a multitude of the Jews.

The destruction of the temple is understood by partial preterists to be the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to come again in Matt. 24 and Rev. 19.

Preterists say that Jesus came in an act of judgment against the Jews for their rejection of Him as Messiah. Unlike full preterists, partial preterists do believe there are some verses like Acts 1:9-11 that do require Jesus to come back again in a physical and visible manner.

Could preterists, whether they be full preterists or partial, be right? Could Matthew 24 and the bulk of the Book of Revelation be about past events? No. In this article, I want to share with you…

SIX REASONS TO REJECT PRETERISM

These are six reasons you can be confident that preterism is unbiblical. And rather than focus on the problems with full preterism, I want to show you six reasons partial preterism can be rejected. Because if I can show you that partial preterism is unbiblical, then full preterism can safely be laid aside as even more unbiblical.

 So, let’s consider some of the reasons to reject Preterism.

1. Preterists’ proof texts fail to support their own view.

Turn with me to Matthew 24. The verse we will be looking at here in Matthew 24 is the chief cornerstone in the preterists’ defense of their view. Here in this chapter, Jesus talks about the signs that will take place in the days leading up to His Second Coming to the Earth. He mentions, if you’ll notice…

…in v. 15, the “Abomination of Desolation” (that time when the Antichrist will set himself up in the temple of God and declare himself to be God, 2 Thess. 2)

…in v. 21, He mentions the time of the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”

…in v. 29, He mentions the sun and moon being darkened and that “the stars will fall from the sky.”

…and then in v. 30, He mentions “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky.”

 MATTHEW 24:34

And then notice v. 34. This is the most popular proof text preterists point to. Notice what Jesus says…

 Matthew 24:34
“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

 And so our preterist friend says...

PRETERIST:  “Ahh, you see! Jesus promised that “this generation” (v. 34)—the generation that was alive at His time—would by no means pass away until all of these things took place (the Abomination of Desolation, the great tribulation, the coming of the Son of Man). Therefore, these things must have taken place. Jesus must have come back or He would be a false prophet!”

Because of this verse (Matt. 24:34) and a couple of others that we’ll look at, preterists insist that all of the things spoken about in this chapter, including…

• the Tribulation events (spoken of in Revelation)
• and the coming of Christ

 ...had to have occurred before the generation of people living at the time of Jesus, died off.

Well, I disagree that this is what Jesus meant. “Then, what ‘generation’ was Jesus talking about in Matthew 24:34?” He was talking about the generation that would see “all” (v. 34) the things He just mentioned.

The key to understanding this verse (Matthew 24:34) is found by backing up a verse. Notice verse 33. Jesus said...

Matthew 24:33-34
33 “Even so you too, when you see these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation [What generation? the generation who, in v. 33, sees “all” those things] will not pass away until all these things take place.”

So, Jesus says “when you see all these things” (v. 33).

What things?

• The “Abomination of Desolation” (v.15)
• The time of “great tribulation” (v. 21) “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now nor ever shall.”
• The stars falling from the skies (v. 29)

That generation (the Tribulation generation) will not pass away without also seeing the coming of the Son of Man to the Earth (mentioned in v. 30).

Jesus was talking about the generation of people who would be alive during the events leading up to His Second Coming, that is, during the time of tribulation.

PRETERIST:  “Well Charlie, I hear what you’re saying, but it just seems odd to me that Jesus would talk about events that were so far off. Why would Jesus speak to His disciples about events that He knew weren’t going to happen for at least two thousand years?”

Actually, Jesus told His disciples that He didn’t know the day or the hour these events would take place in Matthew 24:36.

Why would Jesus speak of events that were so far off? Because He was answering the question His disciples asked Him a few minutes earlier about the “end of the age” (v. 3).

Notice what they asked Him in Matthew 24:3...

Matthew 24:3
“What will be the sign of Your coming and the of the age?”

That’s why Jesus spoke to them about events so far off. They asked! If what Jesus said in Matthew 24 was about events that would transpire in A.D. 70 (as preterists believe), then Jesus failed to answer their question. They asked about events regarding the “end of the age” (v. 3) and that’s what Jesus told them about—events that are still in the future. So, Matthew 24:34 fails to support the preterists’ view.

 

Bible Evidence apologetics

 

Another popular proof text for the preterist position is found in Matthew 10:23.

MATTHEW 10:23

Jesus said to His disciples…

Matthew 10:23
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Preterist: “Ahhh, you see! Jesus promised that He would come again before His disciples would finish evangelizing the cities of Israel. So He must have come in the first century.”

Is that what Jesus meant there? I don’t think so. Let’s carefully reread the second half of the verse. Jesus said...

Matthew 10:23
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Now, there are a few different views regarding what Jesus may have meant here, so we don’t want to be too dogmatic here with an interpretation. But I, along with a good number of Bible commentators, believe that Jesus was simply telling His disciples that there was so much work to be done (so many cities to reach with the gospel) that they would not finish taking the gospel to their own country before His Second Coming.

And if we’re right—that this is what Jesus meant—Jesus’ prediction certainly came to pass. The disciples never did complete taking the gospel to all of the cities of Israel. Why?

Because Israel, to a large degree, would not receive their message. Jesus, even alludes to the coming Jewish unreceptivity to the gospel in the first part of the verse. Notice again there, v. 23.

Matthew 10:23
“When [not if] they persecute you in this city, flee to another. [That was going to be a common response. Then Jesus says…] For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel [that is, you will not finish the task of taking the gospel to the Jewish people] before the Son of Man comes.”

Persecution (e.g., Acts 8:1) and a prevailing Jewish unreceptivity to the gospel prevented the disciples from going through all the cities of Israel. And to this day the job of taking the gospel to all the Jews has not been completed.

Another possible interpretation, one that Dr. Norman Geisler mentions in his Systematic Theology (Vol. 4, p. 637), is that Jesus may not have even been talking about his Second Coming at the end of the age, but just coming to them again, as in days or weeks later, perhaps reuniting with them near the end of their outreach efforts.

For preterists to insist that Matthew 10:23 requires a first century return of Jesus, fails to keep in mind that there are other possible, and I believe more plausible, interpretations of this passage.

Other Scriptures that preterists appeal to in support of their position are found in...

The Book of Revelation

There are four verses in particular.

Revelation 1:1
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.”

Revelation 2:16
“...I am coming to you quickly.”

Revelation 11:14
“The third woe is coming quickly.”

Revelation 22:12
“Behold, I am coming quickly.”

PRETERIST:  “See! Jesus said, ‘I am coming to you quickly.’ Surely, He could not have had in mind events that were two thousand years later. The events spoken about here in the Book of Revelation had to have been fulfilled quickly—shortly after He lived.”

Well, I disagree.

The Greek word translated “shortly,” or “quickly,” here in these passages in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:1, etc.) is the Greek word “tachús.”

This word does not refer to a soon event but a swift event.

•  The Arndt and Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (p. 814) says this word means: “quick, swift,” or “speedy.”

•  Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (p. 616) agrees, saying that the word tachu means: “quickly, speedily.”

•  Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words (p. 913) also agrees, saying this word means: “swift, quick...quickly.”

Jesus was not describing when the events will occur, but rather the manner in which they will take place when they do occur. He was saying that when these events take place, they are going to unfold suddenly, quickly, with great swiftness.

So, these verses in the Book of Revelation do not support the preterist position. And that is the first reason to reject preterism...

1. Preterists’ proof texts fail to support their own view.

 

Answers-Atheists-DVD-4

A second reason to reject preterism is...

2. None of the church fathers mentioned Christ’s Second Coming as having already occurred.

By “church fathers” I am referring to those leaders in the church of the first three centuries A.D. following the original disciples (e.g., Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Tertullian, Polycarp).

Many people don’t realize this, but many of their writings survive to this day. You can go to Amazon.com and buy an encyclopedic size set of the writings of the church fathers (38 volumes) and see with your own eyes what they had to say on a wealth of theological issues.

And as far as the church fathers and preterism are concerned, there is zero indication from known writings of the church fathers that anyone understood the New Testament prophecies from a preterist perspective.

There are no early church writings that teach that Jesus returned (physically or spiritually) in the first century.

None!

If we, as God’s people, are supposed to understand the prophecies of the New Testament according to the preteristic view, you would think God would have left at least one written record of this.

The idea that Jesus came back in A.D. 70 was   a foreign idea during the first 5 centuries of the church and then only mentioned sporadically after that until about 400 years ago.

Norman Geisler points out that it wasn’t until the early 17th century–when preterist thinking was applied by the Jesuit Catholic scholar Luiz de Alcazar (1554-1613) to the Book of Revelation–that it was given very serious consideration.

So, that’s a second reason to reject preterism...

2. None of the church fathers mentioned Christ’s Second Coming as having already occurred.

A third reason to reject preterism...

3. The Christians alive during A.D. 70, as well as the church fathers, believed the Second Coming was a future event.

In other words, not only did the early church not refer to the Second Coming as a past event, over and over they refer to it as future event.

The oldest extra-Biblical Christian document known to exist is a document called The Didache. It is a simple collection of early church doctrine. Most scholars believe it was written near the close of the first century, most likely around A.D. 80. It was used and cited by many of the church fathers, as well as by the Christian historian Eusebius (see Eusebius, Church History 3:25), so its early existence is well documented.

The full text of The Didache had been lost for centuries. Amazingly, it was rediscovered in Constantinople in 1873. The interesting thing that this document proves is that those who lived through the events of A.D. 70 regarded the events spoken of in Matthew 24-25 as yet to be fulfilled prophecy.

This early church document mentions the Antichrist, the great tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ as events that were yet to come. So the Didache is a good piece of evidence from the very believers who lived through the events surrounding A.D. 70 that the preterist view is incorrect.

In addition to the Didache, early church fathers like…

• Papias
• Clement of Rome
• Ignatius
• Polycarp
• and Justin Martyr

…wrote of a future Second Coming.

Well, this raises a question. Who would know better as to whether Jesus came back in A.D. 70? Those who were alive in A.D. 70 and the years immediately following? Or modern day preterists writing 2,000 years later? I’ll side with those who lived closer to the events.

So, that is a third reason to reject preterism...

3. The Christians alive during A.D. 70, as well as the church fathers, believed the Second Coming was a future event.

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All right there’s a fourth reason I am not a Preterist...

4. A strong case can be made that the Book of Revelation was written in approximately A.D. 95, long after the events of A.D. 70.

This poses a big problem for the preteristic view. Preterists believe the Book of Revelation was a prophecy written by the apostle John describing events that would shortly come upon Jerusalem and the Jewish people as their city would be destroyed by the Romans.

For the Preterist view to work, the Book of Revelation has to have been written sometime prior to A.D. 70.

But there is compelling evidence in the writings of the church fathers that the Book of Revelation was written approximately 25 years after the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

For example, consider Irenaeus. He lived from A.D. 120–202. He was the bishop in the city of Lyons in modern day France. He grew up in Smyrna, one of the cities where the Book of Revelation was first circulated (Rev. 2:8). He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John (the author of Revelation).

So get this in your mind...Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John (the author of the Book of Revelation) and Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp. If anyone knew when the Book of Revelation was penned, it would have been Polycarp or Irenaeus!

Well! In Irenaeus’s work titled, Against Heresies (13:18), he tells us when John had his apocalyptic vision. He says…

“We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him [the apostle John] who beheld the apocalyptic vision.

[Hold on. Stop there for a second. That’s interesting!]

Note that Irenaeus (AD 120-202) believed that the “Antichrist” had still not been revealed. Well, that throws a wrench in the preteristic viewpoint. Why? Preterists, including Hank Hanegraaff, believe that the first century Caesar, Nero, was the Antichrist.

That’s not what Irenaeus thought. We’ll talk more about why Nero can’t be the Antichrist shortly. But let’s continue with Irenaeus’s quote. I want you to notice when he says John the apostle had his apocalyptic vision…

 “...For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”

Irenaeus says John had his “apocalyptic vision (the things he writes about in the Book of Revelation) towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”

Who was Domitian? Domitian was a Roman Emperor near the end of the first century.

Here’s what is so fascinating about Irenaeus’s statement. Domitian’s reign did not even begin until A.D. 81. His reign ended with his assassination on September 18th, A.D. 96.

Irenaeus places the date of the authorship of the Book of Revelation sometime around A.D. 95 (“towards the END of Domitian’s reign”), long after the events of A.D. 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. This statement by Irenaeus is devastating to the preterist position.

But, let’s suppose for preterists’ sake that Irenaeus was a sloppy historian and that the Book of Revelation was written near the beginning of Domitian’s reign (A.D. 81). That would still place its writing after the destruction of Jerusalem.

And if the Book of Revelation was written anytime after the destruction of Jerusalem, it can not be a collection of prophecies about events that found their fulfillment before and in A.D. 70 as preterists claim.

PRETERIST:  “Hold on here a second Charlie. You shouldn’t base the date of the authorship of the Book of Revelation on the writings of one person.”

Okay. Here are some others who affirmed the very same thing…

Clement of Alexandria, (who lived from about A.D. 150 to 215) also testified to a post A.D. 70 date for the writing of the Book of Revelation. He mentions that John was exiled to the isle of Patmos until “after the death of the tyrant” (another reference to Domitian who died in A.D. 96).

Another source for a post A.D. 70 completion date for the Book of Revelation is Victorinus.

Victorinus was an early church bishop who suffered martyrdom around A.D. 304. He said in his commentary on the Book of Revelation, that John had his vision of the apocalypse while “he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the mines by Caesar Domitian.”

Another early church source is Eusebius…

Eusebius lived from A.D. 260 – 340. He is known as “the father of church history,” due to his classic work Ecclesiastical History. Several times in his writings he also dates the Book of Revelation to the reign of Domitian.

In addition to these men, there was Jerome.

Jerome, the one who translated the Scriptures into Latin (The Vulgate), lived from 340 to 419. He states clearly in two places, that John was banished under Domitian, and that that is when he wrote the Book of Revelation.

These statements from some of the greatest, most reliable names in early church history, build a compelling case that the Book of Revelation was written many years after A.D. 70 and the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.

And if these men were telling us the truth about this matter, the whole preteristic view goes up in smoke.

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Moving along, let’s consider a fifth reason preterism can be rejected…

5. The Roman emperor Nero could not possibly have been the Antichrist or “the Beast” as preterists suggest.

As I have said, preterists believe the Book of Revelation is now an account about things that have already been fulfilled.

In an attempt to justify their position Preterists have searched high and low through historical records of the first century (primarily Josephus’s writings) in an attempt to find historical details that could possibly discuss the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelation.

One of their widely held beliefs is that the Antichrist, or “the beast” as he’s called in the Book of Revelation, was actually the cruel Roman Emperor Nero.

Could this be? Could those passages about the Antichrist, the beast, the lawless one (2 Thess. 2:9), be references, not to a coming world ruler but references to the now dead Roman Emperor Nero?

Preterists think so. How do they arrive at this conclusion?

Preterists like to point out that when you apply gematria (pronounced: Juh May Tree uh)—a Jewish way of assigning numerical value to letters—to Nero’s name, you actually end up with the number 666 (Rev. 13:18).

And that can sound pretty compelling to people who don’t bother to do any research on the issue. Well, there are numerous problems with this conclusion but I’ll briefly just point out that...

Number crunching Nero’s name doesn’t work in Greek, the language John wrote the Book of Revelation in and the language his initial audience in Asia Minor spoke. So preterists take Nero’s name and convert it to Hebrew. But it still doesn’t add up to 666! So, preterists add one of Nero’s titles (Caesar) to his name. But it still doesn’t add up! So they actually drop a Hebrew letter from the Hebrew word for Caesar (they misspell the word!) to get the letters to add up to 666.

Well, you can get just about any name to equal 666 if you tinker with it like that (changing the language, adding titles, misspelling words).

But even if Nero’s name did add up to 666, no one in the early church seemed to be able to figure this out. None of the church fathers or early commentators identify Nero as the antichrist or associate him with the number 666. None! In fact the earliest mention of Nero being the antichrist doesn’t appear to have occurred until about 1831.

And there’s plenty of reasons why the early church didn’t think Nero was the antichrist. The facts surrounding his life don’t comport with the Bible.

Turn with me to 2 Thessalonians 2.

2 Thessalonians 2:8
“And then the lawless one [that is one of the titles given to the coming world leader] will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

Q. How does the Bible say this “lawless one,” the Antichrist, will be brought to an end?

A. By “the Lord.”

Q. When will that happen? Notice the verse again.

A. At “His coming.”

The Bible teaches that this “lawless one,” the Antichrist, will be brought to an end by “the Lord” Himself at “His coming” (2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 19:19-20).Well, this verse is very problematic for the preterist viewpoint. How so?

This was not how Nero died.

Suetonius (a first century Roman historian) tells us that Nero committed suicide at the age of 31, when “he drove a dagger into his throat.” [Source: Suetonius (c.69 – c.140) The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, “he drove a dagger into his throat”]

Far from being consumed by the breath of Christ at His coming, Nero actually took his own life.

And the problems don’t stop there...

B. Nero committed suicide two years before preterists say Jesus came back. Preterists believe Jesus’ prophecy about coming back in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in A.D. 70. But Nero committed suicide in June of 68, two years before A.D. 70! Obviously this could not have been a fulfillment of what 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says will happen to the Antichrist.

Another problem for the “Nero was the Antichrist” view is this…

C. Daniel 9:27 says that this coming world leader will make a seven year covenant relating to Israel. Nero never made any such covenant.

Another problem…

D. The Bible says this coming world leader will take “his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thess. 2:4). That never happened. Nero never stepped foot in the temple in Jerusalem.

In fact, Nero never stepped foot in the city of Jerusalem. And the problems don’t stop there.

E. Revelation 13:16-17 says that under the Antichrist’s coming government, people will be given a mark on their hand or forehead that will permit them to buy and sell. Nothing of the sort ever occurred under Nero, nor ever has to this date. These facts of history, relating to Nero, are another blow to the preterist position. None of these things ever happened.

So, that is the fifth reason to reject preterism…

5. The Roman emperor Nero could not possibly have been the Antichrist or “the Beast” as preterists suggest.

All right, let’s head down the homestretch here and consider one final reason to reject Preterism...

6. The Tribulation events in the Book of Revelation are too global and cataclysmic to be attributed to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The Book of Revelation tells us that in the coming Tribulation, when God’s wrath is poured out upon a God-rejecting world, the Earth will experience three waves of judgment, with each wave containing seven judgments.

The Book of Revelation tells us of:

• 7 Seal judgments
• 7 Trumpet judgments
• 7 Bowl judgments

...judgments that will devastate the Earth.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:21 that it will be a time of...

Matthew 24:21
“…great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Listen to some of these judgments described in the Book of Revelation…

Revelation 8:8-9
8 “Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.”

When did that ever happen in the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem? A. Nothing like that has ever happened in recorded history.

Revelation 16:18-19
18 “…there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the Earth. 19 Now the great city [a reference to Jerusalem, see Rev. 11:8] was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations [plural] fell.”

When in the first century (or any other time for that matter) was there an earthquake that not only split Jerusalem into three parts but caused “the cities of the nations” (Rev. 16:19) to fall?

Well of course, that never happened. That earthquake is still to come.

The Book of Revelation also prophesies about an event that will wipe out 25% of the Earth’s population. Notice…

Revelation 6:8
“And power was given to them over a fourth of the Earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the Earth.”

 When was “a fourth of the Earth” (Rev. 6:8) killed? Not in the first century.

In another prophecy (Rev. 9:18), John sees into the future and describes three plagues that will wipe out one third of the remaining population. Notice...

Revelation 9:18
“By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed.”

Was “a third of mankind” (9:18) killed by three plagues in the first century? No.

Revelation 11:5-6 prophesies of “two witnesses…[who] will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth” in Jerusalem, who will be able to destroy their enemies with fire (11:5) and who will be able “to smite the Earth with every plague, as often as they desire.” (11:6)

John goes on to say that these two witnesses will be killed, only to be resurrected and carried up to Heaven in the sight of their enemies (Revelation 11:12).

There is no record that anything like that happened in the first century. Where is there mention of any of these things being literally fulfilled in the annals of history, secular or Christian? There isn’t. And for good reason: none of the events mentioned in Revelation 6-22, have happened.It is only by abandoning the plain literal meaning of the words used in Scripture and spiritualizing or allegorizing the Scriptures that preterists can make these prophecies fit into a pre-A.D. 70 scenario.

We reject that method of Bible interpretation. When these prophecies are fulfilled, they are going to be fulfilled literally, just like the prophecies surrounding God’s past judgments were fulfilled in:

•  The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
•  The judgments against Pharaoh and Egypt shortly before the Exodus
•  The destruction of the world in the Genesis flood

CONCLUSION

So, as we have seen this brief article, there are very good reasons why the preteristic view of Bible prophecy should be rejected.

1. Preterists’ proof texts fail to support their own view.
2. None of the church fathers mentioned Christ’s Second Coming as having already occurred.
3. The Christians alive during A.D. 70, as well as the church fathers, believed the Second Coming was a future event.
4. A strong case can be made that the Book of Revelation was written in approximately A.D. 95, long after the events of A.D. 70.
5. The Roman emperor Nero could not possibly have been the Antichrist or “the Beast” as preterists suggest.
6. The Tribulation events in the Book of Revelation are too global and cataclysmic to be attributed to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Any one of these reasons alone is great reason to doubt the preterist position. All six of these reasons taken together are reason to reject this view of Bible prophecy outright.

Brothers and sisters, I exhort you here in conclusion: Be a Berean (Acts 17:11)! Examine the Scriptures daily and test everything you hear by the Word of God (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21). There are a lot of strange teachings out there on Christian radio stations, Christian cable channels, and in Christian bookstores. It is incredibly important that you know the Bible! So, be a student of the Scriptures. Read the Bible daily! (And not just so you can avoid false doctrine but so that you can really get to know your Creator!) He is so worth knowing! So worthy!

Do you know Him? You can. Jesus, God in the flesh, died on that cruel wooden cross in your place, to pay the penalty for your sins, so that you could be forgiven, rescued from spending eternity in Hell, and be brought back into a relationship with Him. He rose from the grave three days later and today He is offering mankind (you!) the free gift of salvation and everlasting life to all those who will place their faith in Him.

I encourage you to do that right now. Steps to peace with God.

Charlie-Campbell

CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL (Twitter: @charlieabready)
Charlie Campbell is the Director of the Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry and a popular guest speaker at churches and conferences. He is the author of numerous articles, books, and DVDs, including:

•  Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
•  Evidence for the Existence of God
•  One Minute Answers to Skeptics
•  Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
•  The End Times: Ten Upcoming Events in Bible Prophecy
•  The Case for the Resurrection

•  Teaching and Preaching God's Word

His DVDs and books have been endorsed by Norman Geisler, Charles Colson, Chuck Smith, Ed Hindson, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Jeremy Camp, and many others.

 

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